2015-08-31

A Year Through Graduate School

I realized about a week ago that I hadn't written anything for this month. I wanted to write this at the end of last week, but I didn't get around to it until today; thankfully, September hasn't come around quite yet.

This post is basically a quick update on things going on in my graduate career. I formally joined a group at the end of January, though I was already doing work for it by the middle of that month. The first project I picked up was about comparing existing approximations of the Casimir effect to a relatively new exact (up to numerical discretization error) boundary-element method for computing the Casimir force; this can be done in conjunction with nonlinear optimization methods, both to optimize for the difference in the exact versus approximate forces, as well as to optimize the overall energy (when making the situation more realistic by taking surface tension into account) and seeing how the resulting energies and structures differ. That has been going on for a while now. More recently, I've been looking at some code for volume integral equation methods to simulate electromagnetic phenomena like radiative heat transfer from a classical perspective (where the only quantum effect comes in the correlation function for different bound currents in a dielectric medium). In particular, I've been extending said volume integral equation code to incorporate nonlocal dielectric effects. Both of these projects have been quite enjoyable in how much I've learned and in the bits that I've been able to contribute; I hope to continue learning and contributing even more to these projects and to others in the future. Otherwise, I've gotten into a great group of friends, and my living situation has been pretty good too. Overall, I've had a really enjoyable first year, and I really look forward to my second year at Princeton! (I'm also looking forward to not having to take formal classes after my second year, though I'm not looking forward as much to dealing with general exams [often called qualifying exams for graduate programs in other universities] at the end of my second year.)

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